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After an Alabama 12-year-old girl managed to chew herself free of restraints, she led investigators to the decomposing bodies of her mother and older brother.
A motorist spotted the child wandering down a country road in rural Dadeville, Alabama on Monday morning, Alabama.com reports. The passerby called 911 and stayed with the girl until authorities arrive, when she was taken to a local hospital for treatment, WSFA reports.
She had been restrained to a bed for around a week, drugged with alcohol and assaulted. Police said she damaged her braces chewing off her restraints.
Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett told the outlet that as she began treatment, state, local and federal investigators worked together to find and arrest Jose Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, on Monday, according to WRBL.
According to NBC News, Pascual-Reyes had been her mother's boyfriend.
On Tuesday, they received a warrant and entered his home, where they allegedly discovered two decomposing bodies, according to Alabama.com. In a Wednesday press conference, the bodies were identified as the child's mother, Sandra Vazquez Ceja, 34, and her brother, who was under 14, according to NBC News.
Criminal complaints filed on Wednesday accused Pascaul-Reyes of smothering Ceja with a pillow and beating the teenage boy to death. Both bodies were dismembered.
The three victims and the suspect had all resided at the mobile home where the bodies were found at least since February, according to Alabama.com. WRBL reported that the "metal underpinning of the mobile home" was damaged, possible as part of the alleged effort to hide the two bodies.
Pascual-Reyes, who was arrested about 30 miles away in Auburn, has been charged with two counts of capital murder, two counts of abuse of a corpse and one count of first-degree kidnapping in connection with the surviving child. The court documents allege the murders and kidnappings all took place on July 24, and the intent of the kidnapping was to "violate or abuse sexually" the victim.
Investigators celebrated the child for her strength.
“I would say she’s a hero,’’ Abbett said. “It’s one of those things we won’t get into until later.”
It is not clear if Pascual-Reyes has a lawyer.
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